QOTD: Highway to the Comfort Zone?


road highway

Yesterday’s long-term update of Jack’s 2014 Honda Accord coupe struck a chord with me. Maybe it was his admission of fortysomething acceptance, his willingness to look on the bright side of average, that did it. After all, owning a car — any car — that you enjoy driving and feel good about buying is something to desire, especially if it doesn’t break the bank.

The car I’m about to talk about has zero sporting pretensions, nor is it lusted after by savvy people in the know. The interior aesthetics leaves much to be desired. The powertrain could stand an added dose of modernity. Its aim in the marketplace? To lure Middle Americans into purchasing a vehicle that’s inherently useful in form while feeling strangely familiar in function. A right-sized vehicle for legions of cash-waving buyers who aren’t in the business of shopping around.

Yes, it’s a crossover.

Due to an ongoing dealer situation, I recently found myself behind the wheel of a loaner. And, given the stratospheric heights to which gasoline prices have soared in my neck of the woods, it wasn’t a vehicle I hoped to have in my driveway for any length of time. It’s now been there three weeks.

I’m a single man who hates possessions. From the get-go, I knew there’d be no hauling with this vehicle, no need to access the second row for anything except groceries, let alone the third. No cries of “are we there yet?” would ever emanate from the aft quarters while my ass occupied the driver’s seat. No, it was just a lot of V6-powered real estate for me to drive until I returned to a compact, stick-shift economy car.

Crossovers sometimes feel good, though few ever feel right. It’s a class of vehicle I find stupefyingly dull and often quite pointless, regardless of what automakers do to spice things up. Frankly, I think parents today allow their kids to bully them into taking on too much cargo for every family trip, and their non-hardened hearts are a boon to automakers selling car-based behemoths for inflated MSRPs. Junior needs to be entertained 24/7, so you’d best sign for a crossover even though a sedan would suffice.

But back to this one.

“Look at that atrocious phoney woodgrain!” I thought after settling behind the wheel. “The ’90s are (unfortunately) over! I’d pay money to strip it out and have it replaced with black plastic.”

Hours passed, then days, and a curious feeling crept into me. I didn’t feel coddled in this vehicle, nor was I displaying anything other than a resting heart rate. I didn’t feel proud or boastful. All I felt, every time I slipped behind the wheel, was the realization that this was one of the most comfortable vehicles I’ve ever driven. In the driver’s seat, it’s as if my body levitated a millimeter from the unremarkable fabric below it, leaving my achy, lanky frame free of the slightest twinge of discomfort.

There’s just the right amount of power up front. The steering feel can only be described as natural. Not engaging, just natural. Daydreams of chasing storms across the Great Plains, putting thousands of effortless miles behind me in the process, danced in my brain. This is the one, I said to myself. This is the vehicle I’d buy for going the distance. There’s room for plenty of stuff, especially with those two rear rows folded — hell, there’s probably enough space to lie down back there, take a nap. And all-wheel drive would probably get me out of any situation a level head got me into.

Somewhere between acceptable mediocrity and aspirational sensibility, I found a degree of comfort that left me surprised. I’ll hold off on mentioning the make and model for now — there’s a review coming at a later date — but I’ll leave you with this question: Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever felt jarred by just how much you enjoy an unlikely and seemingly unsuitable vehicle?